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DNA Testing Clears Man who Served 28 Years

DNA Testing Clears Man who Served 28 Years

Donald Eugene Gates stands outside a bus terminal while en route to Ohio Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009 in Phoenix. Gates was released from a federal prison in Tucson, Ariz. earlier today after serving 28 years for a rape and murder that DNA evidence revealed he

The AP via YellowBrix

December 16, 2009

WASHINGTON – A man who spent 28 years behind bars for a rape and murder he said he didn’t commit walked out of a federal prison in Arizona on Tuesday with $75 and a bus ticket to Ohio after DNA testing showed he was innocent.

The conviction of Donald Eugene Gates, 58, was based largely on the testimony of an FBI forensic analyst whose work later came under fire and a hair analysis technique that has been discredited.

“I feel beautiful,” Donald Eugene Gates, 58, told The Associated Press by telephone after leaving the U.S. penitentiary in Tucson, Ariz.

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Just hours before, the same judge who had presided over Gates’s trial years ago in D.C. Superior Court ordered his release.

Prosecutors had agreed Gates should be released. However, at their request, Senior Judge Fred B. Ugast delayed Gates’ formal exoneration until next week to give the government a chance to conduct one more round of DNA testing.

Ben Friedman, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, said Gates would be the first D.C. defendant who spent significant time in prison to be exonerated based on DNA evidence.

Gates was convicted of the 1981 rape and murder of Catherine Schilling, a 21-year-old Georgetown University student, in Washington’s Rock Creek Park. He was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

But the conviction was based largely on the testimony of FBI hair analyst Michael P. Malone whose work came under fire in 1997. At that time, the FBI’s inspector general found that Malone gave false testimony in proceedings that led to the impeachment and ouster of U.S. District Judge Alcee Hastings in 1989.

Ugast was incredulous that prosecutors had failed to inform him after Malone’s work was called into question. He ordered the U.S. attorney’s office to review all its cases in which Malone testified _ something he said should have been done earlier.

Sandra K. Levick, one of Gates’ attorneys from the D.C. Public Defender Service, said she came across the inspector general’s report while doing her own research for the case. She then obtained more information through a Freedom of Information Act request that showed the FBI had issued warnings about the work of Malone and 12 other analysts who were criticized by the inspector general. As part of a review requested by the FBI, prosecutors confirmed they had relied on Malone’s work to obtain Gates’ conviction.

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  • Car6_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Good luck with Everything Mr. Gates!

  • Advance_seal_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Mr.Gates should use some of that future settlement money and buy himself a new pair of glasses! Congrats Mr.Gates!!

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    over 4 years ago


    Good luck Mr. Gates, I am so glad you were vindicated!

  • Sssssss_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I hope this guy gets millions. Maybe more.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    This is going to cost the FBI some money

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50


    over 4 years ago


    Sure hope the compensation is tax-free. Mr. Gates deserves that much, and more. Good Luck Mr. Gates !!

  • White_shirt_max50


    over 4 years ago


    fplasencia-Frank. Have a heart brother. The only way to right this wrong is to compensate this person. The system failed. If it was me they couldn't put enough zeros on the check.

  • Me_max50


    over 4 years ago


    To fplasencia, what constitutes a "bloodsuker". Is it the guy that spent 28 years in jail for a crime he didn't commit, or the people that screw with the system, just cause they can. I think this guy deserves all that he can get, 28 years is a long time to be locked up, for something you didn't do.

  • Borat_lebanon0109_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Good for Mr. Gates, but these cases are few and far between and the USA still has the best justice system in the world. Any idea why he was in the federal system for this crime since most are sentenced to state time? Did the crime occur on federal property?

  • Mourning_max50


    over 4 years ago


    In my profession, they all say,"I'm innocent!" But here's to you Donald, Your the one in a Hundred Billion. I tip my hat to you.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago

    Our justice system is far from being a failure. It does have it's issues that need to fixed, but overall it is a fair system. At least in this case, justice prevailed; sure it may have taken 28 years, but it came through for a man that maintained his innocense. Best of luck to you Mr. Gates.

  • Swat_guy_transition_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I’m glad to see Mr. Gates get released. It’s a shame that he ever had to serve one day for a crime he did not commit. I’m sure however the payout is going to be very large!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    Wish you the best Mr. Gates. Glad you get to spend your first Christmas with your family in 28 years. Its sad it took that long for the Justice system to fix its flaw.

  • Draped_badge_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Wow,,,See the justice system does fail, fortunately only rarely and it's nice to see that they corrected their mistake...Thank God for new technology, convicting the wrong person is not why we do our job...What a shame that he spent the best part of his life behind bars for nothing...Hope they give him a lot of money...And Merry Christmas Mr. Gates

  • Sparkle_girl_max50


    over 4 years ago


    A very Merry Christmas to Mr. Gates, as the money he gets will make him rich! Sad that he spent so much time for a crime he didn't do!

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